Saturday, April 15, 2006

Lefty Rage in the WaPo

Well, you've seen this.

My responses:

1. Oh, great. Now we're like the wingnuts during the Clinton years.

2. Who's 'we', paleface? I've got nothing in common with these shrill morons.

3. Wait until this goes up on Atrios or Kos...oh, God, you needn't even read the responses. You can predict what these people will say already (The Post is conservative and this is just another hatchet-job against the left...Oh yeah, well at least we're not as bad as the right...Why no article on FreeRepublic...and on and on.)

4. Man, I can't stand liberals.

5. Well, I mean some liberals.

6. Well, I mean the nutty ones.

7. Oh yeah, well what nutty people can you stand?

8. You know, in cool hours when I think of all this as objectively as I possibly can, I cannot give one single good reason for remaning calm about the Bush administration--other than purely practical considerations about trying appear reasonable (as opposed to being reasonable). How, after all, is it reasonable to respond when we have an administration which:

a. Exhibited a willingness to steal an American election.

b. Uses demogoguery and divisiveness as political strategy

c. Lies and deceives with relish and impunity

d. Refuses to acknowledge facts, and adheres to a crackpot ideology with abject dogmatism.

e. Failed to destroy those responsible for 9/11.

f. Instead used the attacks as an excuse to execute an unnecessary and possibly unjust war because of an antecedent idee fixe.

g. Challenged the sanity and patriotism of those who questioned their insane and unpatriotic campaign for war.

h. Incompetently prosocuted said war and the subsequent gesture at a reconstruction.

i. Racked up a debt that will burden us for the forseeable future.

j. Pushes an extremist agenda despite one electoral non-victory and one narrow victory.

k. Uses the power of the presidency to punish its political enemies.


Why is sputtering rage an unreasonable response?

To tell you the truth, I'm not sure it isn't.

It's counter-productive, but that's a different point.

And oh, yes, it is counterproductive as hell. These incontinent fools are some of the best allies the Bush administration has. They're as useful to the administration as the sheep and personality cultists and dogmatic idealogues who flock behind Mr. Bush and his merry band.

I undertsand rage about the moral criminals in this administration.

Oh yes I do.

Sometimes I wonder whether Bush and company represent a greater threat to the world than does OBL and his rag-tag band of theocratic lunatics. Think about that for a moment if you will. To even have to wonder whether that is so speaks volumes.

The Bushies seem to revere those things about America that I consider its worst qualities, and they seem to have no respect for the principles I consider almost holy.

I do not thnk they are evil and I do not think they are idiots. But I am fairly sure that they are fairly bad, and fairly sure that they are unwilling to consider even the possibility that they might be wrong. And at least as much harm has been done to the world by men such as these as has been done by history's pure villains.

Bush and company are not OBL and company. But that's not saying much. They wouldn't sieze power in a military coup, but they would lie and decieve and game the system to illegitimately gain power. And in my book that means that they are not true (small 'd') democrats. Once that was revealed about them, there was never any real chance that I could trust them. But their subsequent actions have always fit a similar pattern: they're not thoroughly bad, but they're not good either.

They're not evil, but that's not even close to being enough in my book.

If it's true that with great power comes great responsibility, then it seems that the greater the power the more responsibility will be required. Bush and company are not entirely irresponsible--morally, politically, and intellectually--but they are notably irresponsible. And they are in charge of the most powerful country the world has ever seen. It's that mismatch that is dangerous.

OBL is a psychopath, but he has little power. Bush is merely a not-very-good man. But a psychopath with a pointy stick is nowhere near as dangerous as a not-very-good man with a wing of B-52s.

One mistake people often make--especially on the right--is to compare our collective actions and our leaders with those of our enemies. We almost always come off looking good by such comparisons. But that's not good enough for me. Better that the Soviets wasn't good enough for me during the Cold War, and better than al Qaeda isn't good enough for me now. Not by a damn sight.

I don't care that our enemies are far, far worse.

Our leaders are bad enough. They disgust me. I weep for my country when I reflect that God is just. I weep for what's been exposed about America during this administration. And I'm mad as hell.

So why do the shrill lefties aforementioned nauseate me too? Well, part of it is that they're giving aid and comfort to the bad (though not worst) guys. They'll defend themselves by pointing out that appeasement and constructive engagement won't work with people like the Bushies. And I agree. They must be opposed with great vigor. But we do not face only two options, shrill spittle-flecked irrationality or sheepish quietude and acquiescence.

What's needed is calm but resolute opposition. We need to speak the truth, but we need to do so in a manner that will not undermine the content of what we say. Rabid rants are cathartic. They feel good. But it's not about our feelings at this point it's about our principles and our country and our world.

So as for these folks: I wish they'd suck it up and put the common good above their desire for catharsis.

Well, these are my initial reactions, anyway.

As always, I could be wrong.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, your strategy isn't working. Quite frankly, these disgusting liberals you keep pointing to aren't the ones in power. Where's the evidence, for example, that the democratic party is being pulled towards these people you find so repulsive? Would that be Kerry? Lieberman? Feingold? Please, tell us who in the f*ck you're referring to. As far as I can tell, *your* kind of people are the ones in power and the majority in the democratic party. You *rule*. It isn't some lefty blogger who spews spittle on the keyboard (although you do a damn fine impression of it yourself).

The problem is you rule and you've failed. Bush is in charge and there isn't an opposition to speak of. Your strategy has failed.

Sorry, Charlie. Don't blame it on the barely existent, politically impotent lefty blogs.

It's your responsibility. It's your strategy.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

heh heh. Man, thanks for confirming my position.

Wait a minute...depressing, actually...


12:27 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Oh, also:

I love it when our local irrational Anonymi attribute positions to me that I've explicitly disavowed...

Man, where do these guys come from?

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you've hit a nugget here, WS. The desire for catharsis, or at least for attention and a desire for 15 minutes of fame, or at least to feel important, spans all politics. It is hilarious at times, but it is also very depressing.

Man, the affirmation of your points is, as you said, funny and sad.

We all love entertainment and the nice little warm glow of moral outrage. It is counterproductive, that is for sure. It is, however, sometimes a nice respite in one more bad day in what has been a very long string of bad days. Gloating in other people's screw-ups is all we have sometimes. This does not make us particularly wonderful people.

Anyway, to try add a bit of substance, I think that it is the fact that many folks do not understand the GRAVITY of the situation that drives some lefties over the edge. Then again, after having cried wolf for so long, this is not a hard situation to explain.

Glenn Greenwald and Digby address this over and over. This is important stuff, this is not entertainment. But we all would rather be entertained, and I can't say that I am a whole lot different than most when it comes to that. I do not count this as one of my best qualities.

My kneecaps, on the other hand, are sparkly and nice.

Have a good one.

1:19 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I think you're especially right about the bit about entertainment.

Many of the really big blogs (LGF, Pandagon, etc.) seem to be primarily in the business of fanning the flames in the hearts of the true believers. That's how you get readers, hits, and affirmation, after all.

Try to stake out a non-standard position, and, take it from me, you'll take heat. Which is fine with me, but it does wear on one...

Anyway, I'm subject to this, too. I check Atrios more that Insty, even though I think they're about equally good/bad. But Atrios's stuff gives me a charge, whereas Insty's stuff gives me a pain.

1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't read pandagon in ages, I got tired of one issue all the time. It lost its entertainment value. Also, it didn't make me think about new stuff too much.

I do like wonkish places that offer up issues and ideas that I simply would not have looked at otherwise. Again, this is entertaining, but informative, or at least potentially informative. I like learning new stuff, regardless of its utility.

Your last comment made me realize that blogs operate on a very meta level. I don't get my charge out o mocking someone. I get my charge out of watching someone else mock someone, and then joining in the virtual community who give the mocker high-fives in comments.

It is all rather lame and not a great symbol of my social skills or tendencies. Yeah, I have a normal life with real friends and all that, but you know what I mean.

Then again, I know a lot of usesless, and sometimes useful, stuff. More than most, but not as much as some.

Have a good one. Any sun out there? It is trying really hard (and succeeding) to be November out here in Seattle.

1:36 PM  
Blogger rilkefan said...

Atrios is reality-based, even if he makes dumb mistakes on occasion. MSOC gets a lot of criticism on Daily Kos. Pandagon was good, once upon a time.

Anyway, I think part of your "counterproductive" claim is too simple. There are people who will be inspired to oppose Bush by the MSOCs, and people who are annoyed at spittle-flecked liberals. Why you aren't reading Hilzoy or Drum or JMM or Kleiman or Ezra Klein or Balloon Juice or Jim Henly and ignoring the MSOCs howling on the fringes is a mystery to me. It's like you're denying human nature so you can get an indignation rush. Still, I agree with a lot of what you say above.

1:41 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...



Well, I DO ignore the the sense that I neither read 'em regularly nor take them very seriously... But that doesn't mean that there's something wrong with pointing out that they're full of shit, right?

Only reason I bring this up is that it's in the WaPo.

Oh, and b/c it's ultimately going to hurt anti-Bush efforts.

I'm sure there are cries of "BDS!" across the rightosphere today.

Besides, I think that, despite how messed-up liberals are, they are closer to being right than conservatives. And so my efforts to nudge people in what I take to be the right direction will be more effective when directed at liberals.


You write:

"...blogs operate on a very meta level. I don't get my charge out o mocking someone. I get my charge out of watching someone else mock someone, and then joining in the virtual community who give the mocker high-fives in comments."

Extremely well put. I find myself doing that way too often...and I get the feeling that many of us are doing it.

2:58 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Pointing out the emperor has no clothes is a far cry from being able to make clothes yourself. And that's the rub about the question of who should lead.

Perhaps the left is right, but there's no way for a reasonable person to detect that in between all the invective. Until they can get control of themselves, no way they get near the controls of this nation. I commend your call for sanity, WS. The biggest virtue of the Republicans has always been that they are not Democrats. the people will choose reactionaries over Jacobins almost every time, and contrary to popular propaganda, things aren't bad enough for the Jacobins yet.

Until a credible statesman rises up in the Democratic Party (and more than a few brave people willing to back him or her), someone who's willing to take half a loaf and doesn't regard half of their own country as stupid, evil or both, we are better off with it consigned to the backbenches.

Anyone who thinks things can't get any worse simply has no imagination.

3:34 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yeah, it stinks when both party's biggest selling point is that it isn't the other one...

Though a few things to note:

1. During the Clinton years the right was even crazier than the left is now, and over far, far less.


2. Even when we had a credible statesman (Clinton), the right went batshit crazy against him.

3. Both Gore and Kerry, whatever you might think of them, would have been better than Dubya.

But, yeah, people will always choose the crazy conservatives over the crazy radicals if they think that's their choice.

Hell, that's what I'd choose...

4:07 PM  
Blogger rilkefan said...

That the Democrats' biggest selling point is being non-Republicans is not a reflection on them. There is no possible party such that their positive good would outweigh the good of getting Bush/Cheney/Rove/DeLay/Frist/Norquist/Falwell out of power/influence.

There are plenty of good things being pushed by the Ds - go read Clark's website, or look into Kerry's health plan, or read the bills Durbin or Obama or etc are behind.

"MSOC" = Maryscott O'Connor - that's how she's known at Kos at least.

Note that the crazy conservatives are much more likely to be a permanent fixture than the crazy radicals...

4:31 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Agreed, but lots of Dems seem to be very anti-Clark.

Maybe I'm wrong about that, but that's the way it seems to me.

6:47 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

And a lot of Dems were/are ideologically anti-Clinton, the DLC, and anything that resembles centrism.

His presidency, his capital, if you will, was squandered not by the reactionaries who impeached him, but in the first 2 years of his presidency, when he still had a majority in both houses.

My problem with Clinton was never in what he did, but in what he did not do. It was a flaw in the man, not his ideology, which was pretty damn close to that of JFK, Nixon, and Bush41. Centrist.

But as we're impugning the size of each others' moral genitalia, I cannot forgive the Democrats for their routine demagoguery of virtually any race issue. I do try to make allowances that but for the monolithic black vote, the Democrats would scarcely win another major election. (You could look up the numbers.)

And while I'm prepared to concede that there is some indulgence (nod, wink) of racism on the GOP side, Democrat social policies and attitudes have decimated Black America materially, and their rhetoric has perpetuated if not widened the racial divide.

The sneaky codes used at black functions by white Democrats, that the white establishment (read GOP) is the enemy, do not pass unnoticed, and neither does the unblinking toleration of the overt racism of swindlers like Sharpton, whose only message is one of hopelessness.

And it is that sense of hopelessness that is the true enemy of black progress. But Democrats realize that unless they perpetuate it, their party will go the way of the Whigs.

I appreciate the pickle they're in, but until the Democrats change their message from "fighting" to "building" (as Clinton, statesman-like, indeed did), they do a disservice, nay, harm, to both their nation and to the very people whose interests they claim to represent.

10:10 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I wish I could say you were wrong, Tom, but I can't.

I can't say you're right, either...but I've come to realize that I don't even come close to understanding these kinds of race issues.

It seems that most racists migrated from the Dems to the GOP as a result of Nixon's southern strategy, and there they remain. There's a lot--a WHOLE lot--about the GOP's attitude toward race that I'm sure you'll admit is entirely unacceptable. I probably think it's worse than you do, but let me guess that you'd agree that it's not close to optimal.

But I have to say that I spend an enormous amount of time worrying about the way Democrats as a party think about race. I worry obsessively that Democratic policies are helping to perpetuate a permanent, hopeless underclass.

Republicans are doing more than their share to do that, too, IMHO. But I'm more concerned with the Dems because--as you know and as I know you don't agree--I think the Dems are closer to being right and that there's more hope of redeeming them.

In short, I suspect that the Generic Republican doesn't care much about the problems of minorities and the poor, whereas I worry that the Generic Democrat is so concerned with being compassionate that he's in danger of killing them with kindness by making them perpetually dependent as a result of learned helplessness.

That's too much already about something I don't know enough about.

But finally; yes, Al Sharpton is a disgrace.

But really finally: yes, lots of Dems were anti-Clinton...but not nearly as many and not nearly as vehemently as the folks on your side of the fence...

One of the reasons I came to like Clinton was his attempt to address this problem with welfare reform.

10:44 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

One last thing here, though:

The poor and minorities don't really get much assistance. There's no such thing as welfare as most people understand it, and I suspect that affirmative action doesn't really accomplish much. I can't help but think that smarter programs could do more for the problem without the threat of undermining self-reliance.

10:55 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, while there's a break in the clouds, I'll squeak in here once again, WS, working in reverse order:

I think "programs," technique, has been tried. Technique is important, but always insufficient. I do believe the problem is one of philosophy, and I have listened to a lot of black folk. If you start with Farrakhan and work clockwise to Sowell, it's quite a small sweep.

There is a reason they both have resonance, and the reason is that truth lies somewhere around 12 o'clock.

Yes, Nixon's southern strategy was both success and doom for the GOP. The problem actually started with Goldwater, tho no racist himself, on ideology/constitutional grounds defended "states' rights," even in the face of the civil rights movement.

That Nixon's GOP took in the disaffected Dixiecrats is the reason that blacks are culturally Democrats. 90%. (Nixon himself got almost half the black vote in 1960, before the great divide. Eisenhower had built up great moral capital desegregating the south [with troops!] and Nixon himself went on to institute affirmative action.)

So that's the name of that tune, at least politically.

As for GOPers being racist, of course genuine racists have nowhere else to go but the Republican Party. The question is how many Dixiecrat types have gotten hip or simply died off like the fucking dinosaurs they are.

The GOP is definitely the last bastion of white racists, but I consider it a sacred duty to beat them into submission: I'll (in a 2-party system) accept their votes, but not their influence. Unfortunately, as the minority party, Democrats don't have the luxury of hammering their own (black) racists, or even their (white) racial demagogues.

As for the Generic Republican, he knows the beatitutes are in the Bible, too.

The economic success in the US of immigrant Africans and Afro-Caribbeans indicates that it's not about skin color, simple racism. Still, and even though there is continuing prejudice against African Americans, it's a 2-way street. Even the biggest racist dickhead in Mississippi knows that the African American has been done wrong, and a debt is owed.

But after 40 years of compensatory social programs, with a net negative social effect, at least for the most intractable of the black bottom class, no one knows what to do.

For everybody in the GOP outside Mississippi, we look to Sowell and Farrakhan for some sort of answer. We're out of grand ideas.

The irony and the rub is in that during Jim Crow and before integration, Black America was more self-reliant and cohesive than it is now. On this, both Farrakhan and Sowell agree.

Where we go from here to further black progress, I dunno. But the status quo, at least for the bottom, is worsening: on this I think we can agree.

But although the percentages might be less, white guilt at the black predicament is quite vibrant in the GOP as well. We are students of history, too.

2:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The irony and the rub is in that during Jim Crow and before integration, Black America was more self-reliant and cohesive than it is now. On this, both Farrakhan and Sowell agree.

Well, in the sense that black America was a strongly ghettoized and isolated minority, then yes, they were more self-reliant and cohesive, by default.

That has absolutely nothing to do with broad metrics for African-American quality of life issues, though.

That said, I'll just throw out my idea that the two big problems for African Americans today are: 1) the massive screw-up that is the War on Drugs, the negative effects of which fall dispropiortionately on blacks, and 2) a black culture that idolizes the wrong damn role models (rappers, sports stars, street thugs) rather than the tried-and-true boring ones (college graduate, successful businessman, good father).

How those problems get fixed is beyond me, though.

And as for TVD's earlier claim that "And a lot of Dems were/are ideologically anti-Clinton, the DLC, and anything that resembles centrism." I'd point out that the whole reason we have Bush in the first place is because of the tiny fraction of people who really were "anti-centrist" broke for Nader. Many of those folks have arguably been reabsorbed by the party since then, but their influence seems to be minimal: the truly fringe candidates never made it far in the '04 primaries.

5:22 PM  
Blogger rilkefan said...

"I do try to make allowances that but for the monolithic black vote, the Democrats would scarcely win another major election. (You could look up the numbers.)"

I do try to make allowances that but for the monolithic homophobic and racist and sexist vote, the Republicans would scarcely win another major election. (You could look up the numbers.)

8:22 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

I doubt it. It would kill the buzz of your self-righteousness. Still, the thought troubles me.

Regardless, your et tuoque doesn't change a word of what I wrote, which apparently does not trouble you. Indeed, you are incapable of engaging the possibility, as it would tear down the temple of your moral perfection.

1:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pointing out the emperor has no clothes is a far cry from being able to make clothes yourself.

Anybody with a lick of sense can cover themselves. How big a fool do you have to be, not to know your ass is hanging out in the cold air?

12:12 PM  
Blogger rilkefan said...

Not claiming moral perfection, I just find racist rhetoric abhorrent. Not saying you're racist, but you are quoting a meme which usually implies "The Democrats are only a viable party because they have black voters, so they're not legitimate". Your statement is as true as "The Democrats can only win major elections because of the Jewish vote and Jewish money". I am perfectly happy to have the Democrats rely on the black vote - but really the framing is stupid because blacks are Democrats. Similarly I'm happy to rely on the well-educated vote and the gay vote and so forth. Just looking forward to the day when the guys on the other side of the aisle embrace science and policy and reject governance by religious text and politics by skin color and sexual orientation.

1:58 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, if we're going to discuss what we're discussing, then let's discuss it. If everyone who disagrees with you is some sort of -ist, then it's a waste of time.

All decent people abhor racist talk, but race-baiting rhetoric is just as corrosive. The Democratic Party tolerates it, and propogates it. (Howard Dean.)

I conceded several legitimate reasons why blacks don't vote Republican. Hell, I agree with 'em myself. But the reason blacks elect such divisive figures as Maxine Waters and the lovely Ms. McKinney is that they know how ill-served they are by their party. They have given up hope, and elect bomb-throwers out of frustration and indifference. Screw it all. Nihilism.

There's nothing wrong with Democrats advertising themselves as the best friends of black people. But the majority of the other party is not racist, and to perpetuate that lie does a disservice to us all.

I'll take any opportunity to challenge racism on my side of the aisle, and have tried to get more sensitive to recognizing it even when it's cloaked. But the mote in the Democratic party's eye is race-baiting, and I'm asking you and yours to take an honest look. It's my belief that it's become so routine, you don't even notice it anymore.

And if you do, and ignore it, shame on you. Silence indeed does signal acceptance.

4:58 PM  
Blogger rilkefan said...

The GOP agenda.

Are there idiots on my side who misuse race? Sure. There are idiots of every sort everywhere. It's not institutional, though. I'm not ever going to vote for what's-her-name who slugged a cop a couple of weeks ago - but the unofficial news organization of the GOP (e.g., Cheney demands the places he stay pretune all TVs in his rooms to it) is paying more attention to her than to the ethics implosion in Congress, not to mention Iraq and Iran and ... You've got a beam in your eye, I'm not interested in hearing about my mote.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I don't think I understand that mote-beam quote.

Is the object in one's own eye *really* a beam? Or does is it just a mote seen super close-up? But it affects you as if it were a beam, and much more than the mote in your neighbor's eye, because it blocks much of your field of vision?

One way or another or another, I AM interested in the motes in my own eye. Call me selfish...

But I AM, really, rather more interested in Democratic sub-optimality with regard to race b/c their a party I relate to and semi-belong to and can affect.

It's rather the same kinds of reasons why I'm more inclined to talk about Bush's Saddam's evilness. My country, my president. Something I'm part of and partially responsible for.

Anyway, I think--and I actually think that Tom might think--that re: race, the Democrats suck rather less than the Republicans. But that doesn't mean they don't suck.

7:33 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

I'll settle for that. This is not about scoring points.

Race-baiting is as corrosive as racism.

11:31 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, I don't think I can agree with that in an unqualified form. I think that really really bad instances of race-baiting are worse than really really mild instances of racism, tho.

But I'm not sure how much the comparative question matters. I mean I, anyway, as a quasi-Democrat, don't really care that much if the Rupublicans are worse than we are in some way...if the party I'm associated with is bad in some way, then I want to change it. Just noting that the other party is worse in that respect gives me no comfort.

9:14 AM  

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